India must strive to catch the ecological bus
- A re-invigorated biodiversity management policy is India’s survival strategy. At this point in our development trajectory, we don’t pay any heed to either biodiversity or landscape conservation.
India has been ablaze with devastating forest fires in Uttarakhand and in Orissa’s Similipal. Why aren’t these being discussed with the same intensity as the Tapovan catastrophe in February? Several scientists have been reported saying that the dramatic fall in rainfall this season has a directly co-relation with these fires in Uttarakhand. This may be a fact, but the absence of rainfall is caused by climate crisis. India has to gear up to protect its spectacular biodiversity from the many cataclysmic events that are bound to attack our country as climate change intensifies.
A re-invigorated biodiversity management policy is India’s survival strategy. At this point in our development trajectory, we don’t pay any heed to either biodiversity or landscape conservation. We can only grow if we avert an ecological and environmental collapse. We cannot afford expenditure on disaster relief and rehabilitation, instead of innovation, education and health. Let’s go back to the drawing board for every single project, with new focus on biodiversity. India must rapidly build and nurture grassroots-based habitat monitoring and governance. Incentives can make or break this. Well known conservationist, Bishwajit Mohanty from Orissa, points out in Down to Earth magazine, how local women can be involved in sweeping forest floors in specific seasons to prevent fires and Van Panchayats can be incentivised to catch poachers. Locals, not politicians, must co-own the forest more than they do, along with the forest department. The bus for a stable, sustainable future is moving on. Let’s race and catch it.
The writer is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group